For about 40 years, the Colorado West Christian School has served the Montrose area and now, according to School Administrator Tim Deater, a second location is planned to start up in Delta this fall.
This is, however, with the exception that the school is able to reach its minimum capacity of 50 students. At this time, 26 are committed and paid up.
“We don’t want to make this about a business issue, but we need to make sure that we meet our payroll goals to be able to pay the teachers,” Deater said, adding that they are currently trying to put their name out there and create a little more interest. He sent a video message over Facebook to county church leaders.
The location of the school is already selected and practically ready to go. It’s the Rivers Church, which has an appropriate facility for what’s needed, yet it currently gets no use during the week.
Deater explained that the Colorado West Christian School has planned this with Lead Pastor Jason Neely. Admission, as this is not a public school under a district, is set at $4,000 a year for a family’s first child, and that’s for a 10-month academic schedule. A family’s second child gets a 15% discount, the third gets a 25% discount and the fourth and beyond get free admission.
Deater explained that this was the amount deemed necessary to run the school with at least 50 students, in order for teachers to get paid and for other school expenses to be covered.
“Our environment doesn’t afford us the opportunity to charge $8,000-$12,000 like the front range private schools do,” Deater said. “Our goals are, one, to never take advantage of our families, but on the other hand we want to make sure we pay a fair wage for a fair labor for our teachers.”
The school does also offer a tuition-assistance program.
With that tuition, Deater said the school will have the opportunity to have one teacher for each grade level. In the case of numbers exceeding far beyond 50, their policy is to begin looking into teacher assistants.
According to Deater, as the school doesn’t pursue any kind of federal funding, administration has more freedom as a Christian private school to select Bible-based curriculums and to avoid that kind of separation that public schools have.
“We teach our basic primary curriculum that stems off of math, science, history, English or literature, and then Bible,” Deater said. “And so where our curriculum is different is, one, we have a [Bible] curriculum, but two is that we use approaches in everything from a biblical world view.”
To clarify, Deater said they don’t “put a round peg in a square hole,” so to speak, by trying to relate 2+2=4 to biblical doctrine, but character analysis in books will be done from a more biblical perspective and an angle of man’s depravity, human sinfulness and so forth.
For younger grades of kindergarten through second grade, the school primarily uses the Abeka curriculum for handwriting. This curriculum includes teaching the fading concept of cursive writing, so by third grade, the students are writing in cursive.
“I know that’s kind of an anomaly,” Deater said, adding that they like to joke “We want our kids to be able to read the constitution.”
They later transition from Abeka to more Bob Jones curriculum, which gets deeper into cognitive understanding and deeper rationale, as well as math.
“We want to teach our kids to be critical thinkers and use the benefit they have, their brains, to be future leaders of our community,” Deater said.
As it is clearly a classified Christian school, Deater said they desire their purely biblical perspectives to be reflected at home and in the church and vice versa.
Discipline within the school will follow the same ideal, Deater said. In the case of unreceptive students, teachers can call a classroom intervention for behavior accountability. Administration will, in further cases, reach out to the parents and the students’ church’s leadership for counseling.
“We understand man’s depravity, we understand that we are all sinful and that we are in complete, utter need of salvation and Christ’s atoning work in our lives,” Deater said, “so we apply those principles to our students.”
“We apply grace,” he said.
In the most severe cases, students can be expelled, but Deater said they’ll try several other tactics before taking that extreme measure.
Deater himself is the father of four children, kindergarten through freshman year. While it is biblically the job of the parents to raise their kids and instill values at an early age, the school actively seeks to keep that connection and create partnerships with the parents and the churches.
“It’s really important for us to develop relationships with our families,” Deater said. “In doing so, our families partner with our churches because at the end of the day, when you look at Deuteronomy 6, when Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, he instructs the people, teach these things to your children and your children’s children so that they might know.”
The plan now is for enrollment for the Delta facility to open up in May. The Delta Colorado West Christian School will be managed from the Montrose location, but will have its own on-site administrator under Deater.